Rail freight has been a method of transport in full development for several years. Indeed, China, which is notably at the initiative of the project, is investing important sums in this program which they themselves call " the Silk Road ".
Transport by train is a real alternative compared to sea and air freight: faster than the boat, cheaper than the airplane, it is sometimes the happy medium, the perfect formula for your expedition.
DocShipper China provides professional rail service from all cities in China to Europe, a bonus that allows us to always better adapt our offers to customer needs.
This guide covers everything you need to know about rail transportation from China to Europe, Russia or Central Asia. If you are looking for an alternative to air freight or sea freight, then you have come to the right place. Good reading!
Our rail freight services from China
Our rail freight solutions offer secure, reliable and environmentally friendly transport services that covers Europe and Asia. As sea freight, this solution offers two choices: shipment in LCL (Less-than-Container-Load) or FCL (Full-Container-Load).
LCL in rail freight
If a shipment is not large enough to fully fill a container, we can organize the reservation of your cargo in groupage. This type of shipment is called LCL (Less than Container Load) shipment. We will organize a full container (FCL) with a primary carrier and consolidate shipments from multiple shippers. This means that the forwarder (here DocShipper) who reserves a full container accepts goods from different shippers and groups all these goods in one container as a fully loaded container - FCL. The freight forwarder sorts these goods at their destination or at the transhipment points, intended for different recipients in different ports.
- Fast and secure transport of your cargo in LCL (Less-than-Container Load)
- Regular departures from major business centers across Europe and China
- Fixed and reliable transit times
FCL in rail freight
Shipping in FCL (or full container) does not mean that you need to have enough freight to fill an entire container. You can ship a partially filled container as an FCL. The advantage is that your cargo will not share a container with other shipments contrary to a solution in less than one container (LCL). Keep in mind that a full container (FCL) becomes profitable from the moment it is half-filled.
- Regular departures from major business centers across Europe and Asia
- An ecological alternative for your FCL freight transport
- Services available for containers, trailers, wagon groups and train block movements
- Container sealed from origin to final destination
Booking of a wagon from China to Europe
For a large quantity of goods shipped or exceptionally large products, transport by train and booking an entire wagon is an option to consider. This can reduce costs compared to using containers: raw materials, building materials, etc. The DocShipper team also has a wealth of experience managing the shipment of goods by the whole wagon.
Transit times between China and Europe
Note DocShipper: The central station in Europe is Duisburg, from that checkpoint, your cargo will be dispatched across Europe. As you can see. it generally takes 2 weeks to send a container from China to Europe, an unbeatable compared to the sea freight method.
How much does rail freight cost from China?
When we make an offer for rail transportation, we will base our pricing on multiple factors. Are you planning to ship your cargo by train? Then clarify the following points which will be essential to determine the adequate offer:
- Cargo volume: The dimensions of your cargo after packaging
- Cargo weight: Gross weight of the goods on the scale
- Distance: The costs will be proportional to the distance traveled by train
- Origin and destination: These 2 points will, in particular, make it possible to determine the trucking costs from/to the stations
- Nature of goods: Some goods are more complex than others, for example, dangerous goods
- Insurance: You decide to insure your shipment? This will have a cost not to be overlooked
- Customs clearance: Customs duties and taxes will be an important factor you will have to consider
Advantages and disadvantages of rail freight from China
Don't ask too much! It's still the beginning of the rail transport, but the future looks bright! As mentioned previously, with the heavy investments of the world's leading power, we can be sure that things will change, and quickly!
A railway line that crosses the world from the Far East to Western Europe is the new Silk Road! Indeed, it sometimes happens that sea freight or air freight is not a perfect alternative to freighting from China. It was around mid-2017 that this route really took shape with the transport of a cargo over 12,000 km, from East China to Great Britain in London, just that!
Faced with the rise of this mode of transport, DocShipper, a freight forwarder based in China, also offers rail freight services. Now let's take a look at the main advantages of this method of transport.
Rail freight advantages
The biggest advantage of rail transport is that it is the most reliable mode of transport, as it is least affected by weather conditions such as rain, fog, etc. compared to other modes of transportation.
Rail transportation is better prepared than any other form of transportation. It has fixed routes and schedules. Its service is safer, uniform and regular compared to other modes of transport.
High speed over long distances
Its speed over long distances is superior to any other mode of transport, except by air obviously. It is therefore the best choice for long-distance traffic.
Suitable for bulky and heavy goods
Rail transport is economical, faster and better suited for transporting heavy and bulky goods over long distances.
It is a less expensive method of transport compared to others. Most of the railway operating expenses are fixed costs. Any increase in rail traffic is followed by a decrease in the average cost. Rail transport is economical in terms of manpower, since a single driver and a single guard is enough to support a much larger load than motorized transport. Note that sea freight is still the cheapest method if you ship large volumes.
Rail is the safest mode of transport. The risk of rail accidents and breakdowns is insignificant compared to other modes of transportation. In addition, traffic can be protected from exposure to the sun, rain, snow, etc.
The carrying capacity of the railways is extremely large. In addition, its capacity is elastic, which can easily be increased by adding more wagons if it's required.
It is the largest public enterprise in the country. The railways provide many public services. Their fees are based on the principle of "taxing what traffic can bear", which helps the poor. In fact, it is a national necessity.
Government administrative facilities
The railways provide administrative facilities to the government. The defense forces and civil servants derive their mobility mainly from the railways.
Rail freight disadvantages
Huge capital investment
The railroad requires a significant capital investment. Construction, maintenance, and overhead costs are very high compared to other modes of transportation. In addition, the investments are specific and immobile. If traffic is not enough, investments can result in a waste of considerable resources.
Lack of flexibility
Another disadvantage of rail transport is its lack of flexibility. Its routes and times cannot be adjusted to individual needs and must follow standards.
Absence of door to door service
Rail transport cannot provide door to door service because it is linked to a particular track. Intermediate loading or unloading involves higher costs, more wear, and loss of time. The time and cost of terminal operations is a disadvantage we also find in sea freight.
As the railways require considerable investment, they can give rise to monopolies and harm the public interest. Even if it is controlled and managed by the government, the lack of competition can lead to inefficiency and high costs.
Not suitable for short distances and small loads
Rail transport is neither suitable nor economical for short distance journeys and reduced freight traffic.
It takes a lot of time and work to book and take delivery of goods by rail, compared to the sea or air freight.
No rural service
Due to the huge capital requirements and traffic, the railways cannot be run economically in rural areas. As a result, large rural areas have no rail service, even today. This causes a lot of inconvenience to people in rural areas.
The railway must have a full load for its ideal and economical operation. Because of its very large carrying capacity, the underutilization of its capacity in most regions is a serious financial problem and a loss to the economy.
As a public service, the railways have a monopoly position and, therefore, a centralized administration. The local authorities do not meet the personal requirements of the population in relation to the roads.
Rail vs Sea vs Air freight
As previously stated, DocShipper is able to offer rail, sea, and air transport.
Normally, before choosing a shipping process, we need to assess:
- The place of origin and destination and if there is an appropriate infrastructure
- Quantity and type of goods you import from China
- Cost of freight from China to different destinations
By performing an appropriate assessment, we will recommend the shipping process that will be most in line with both your budget and time requirements.
Of course, we do all of this by weighing the possible pros and cons of each process. Let's see this together:
Speed vs cost
As we can see on the above schema, rail freight represents the happy medium between sea freight and air freight :
- It is cheaper than air freight
- It is faster than sea freight
An average freight train has 41 containers while a Boeing 777 could only take 9. Containers seem to be very different compared to ships: the largest container ships sailing today can carry more than 21,000 containers twenty feet - more than 400 freight trains.
Rail freight terminals
A rail service offers more than just shipping from one station to another. Frequently, services are required to ensure that the shipping process is undertaken reliably, securely and in accordance with applicable legal regulations. If necessary, we are happy to provide the appropriate terminal services through our partners.
Railway stations in Europe
- Germany: Burghausen, Basel, Duisburg, Hamburg, Kornwestheim, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg, Schkopau, Ludwigshafen
- Austria: Vienna, Wels
- Belgium: Antwerp
- Spain: Barcelona, Bilbao, Tarragona, Madrid
- Sweden: Goethenburg, Malmo
- Finland: Kotka
- Italy: Bologna, Trieste, Verona, Busto Arsizio
- France: Bayonne, Lyon
- Netherlands: Rotterdam
- Hungary: Gyoer, Budapest
- Poland: Malaszewiche
- Norway: Oslo
Railway stations in Eurasia
- Russia: Ekaterinburg, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Vladivostok, Irkutsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaluga, Tomsk, Bazaiha, Cheljabinsk, Perm, Samara, Omsk, Novomoskovsk, Tobolsk
- Estonia: Tallinn, Narva, Paldiski
- Belarus: Minsk, Mogilev, Orscha
- Kyrgyzstan: Alamedin, Bischkek, Osh
- Azerbaijan: Baku, Kishly
- Latvia: Riga, Zilupe, Daugavpils
- Ukraine: Kiev, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk
- Uzbekistan: Taschkent, Chukursay, Uchkuduk
- Turkmenistan: Aschgabad, Balkanabad, Turkmenbaschi
- Lithuania: Vilnus, Klaipeda, Kjana
- Kazakhstan: Almaty, Aktau, Karaganda
- Tajikistan: Duschanbe, Hudzhand, Kurgan-Tjube
Railway stations in Asia
- China: Changchun, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Foshan, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xiamen, Zhengzhou, Yiwu
- Russia: Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Voronezh, Volgograd, Samara, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok
- Central Asia: Naushki (MN), Karagandy (KZH), Atyrau (KZH), Almaty (KZH), Baku (AZB), Bishkek (KRG)
The 2 distribution centers in Europe
Duisburg - Germany
- Interior barge services: in Rotterdam and Antwerp, 3 x per week.
- Rail connections: to Rotterdam-RSC, Antwerp's main hub + Combining during the week
- Storage capacity: 7,500 TEUs on 120,000 m²
- Crane options: 4 stacker stackers, 2 gantry cranes, 1 water crane
- Rail/water infrastructure: 6 rail tracks (700 m each), platform (250 m)
- Truck fleet: chassis for all container sizes, side loaders
- Container depot
- Container repairs
- Customs clearance services
Hamburg - Germany
- Rail connections: Ludwigshafen / Frankfurt / Karlsruhe / Munich / Kornwestheim / Stuttgart / Duisburg / Neuss / Rostock / Lübeck / Kiel / Nuremberg / Cologne / Basel / Busto (IT) / Verona (IT) / Lovosice (CZ) / Taulov (DK) / Napoli (IT) / Madrid (ES) / Patras (GRC) / Vienna (AT) per day
- Storage capacity: 1280 TEU, 120 trailers over 320,000 m²
- Opening hours: 24 hours a day from Monday to Saturday
- Terminal management: 400,000 units per year
- Crane options: 7 gantry cranes, 2-terminal tractor
- Railway infrastructure: 4 railways (720 m each), 4 railways (620 m each), 4 railways (585 m each)
- Truck fleet: chassis for all container sizes
- Refrigerated caps
- Stationary brake test facility
- Container depot
- Container repairs
- Customs clearance services
FAQ | RAIL FREIGHT
✅What are the advantages of rail freight compared to other modes of transport?
It's faster than a boat, cheaper than a plane, it's sometimes the perfect balance, the perfect formula for your expedition. Moreover, it is a reliable, well-organized transport, suitable for heavy and bulky goods. In fact, DocShipper China provides a professional rail service from all cities in China to Europe.
🌍Where can DocShipper provide its rail service?
(1) In stations in Europe: (Austria, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, Norway) (2) Eurasia: (Russia, Moscow, Estonia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan) (3) Asia: (China, Russia, Central Asia)
📝What documents are required for road haulage?
The CIM consignment note or the Lettre de Voiture Internationale (LVI). This document is drawn up by the consignor and the railway company. There is a contract of carriage as soon as the company has agreed to carry the goods. This acceptance is evidenced by the date stamped on the consignment note at the forwarding station.
❌What are the disadvantages of rail freight?
The cost of shipping by rail freight can be quite expensive when it comes to short distances. Delays at border crossings if there is a change of rail operator. Due to strict routes and timetables, rail freight transport lacks flexibility. Door-to-door delivery is not possible. Once the freight arrives at the rail terminal, alternative logistics solutions must be considered to transport it to its point of destination. The booking process is longer compared to the organisation of freight transport by road.
💸What are the variables that determine the cost of shipping by rail freight?
The calculation of the cost of sending by rail freight depends on several factors described below. If you are considering shipping goods by rail in order to choose the cheapest freight transportation service, please consider the following: (1) Shipment dimensions: These include the size and weight of the goods being transported. (2) Distance: rail is the cheapest means of freight transport for long distance shipments. (3) Pick-up and delivery points: How far from the nearest railway station are the pick-up and delivery points? (4) Nature of goods: what types of articles are best suited for rail freight transport (fragile objects, toxic, flammable substances, etc.)? (5) Insurance: Depending on the nature of the goods transported, additional insurance forms may be required. (6) Customs clearance: when your shipment crosses the border, customs clearance and import fees may apply.
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